Children In The Progressive Era

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Throughout human history, children were thought of as servants, apprentices, or a means to ease workload. Children would work on the family farm or a family business. They could be easily taken advantage of compared to adults. The exploitation of children for labor without concern for their education or welfare was common and even the norm. No special concern about children existed. By 1890, 18% of the labor force consisted of worker between the ages of ten and fifteen. (6/) But the progressive reformers between 1890-1920 sought to change this. This period of time is refereed to as the Progressive Era. The reforms were a turning point in history for improving living standards and acknowledging basic human decency for majority of children in…show more content…
They believed that the government, local leaders, and the states should play a more active roll in bringing about a fair economy, raising the living standards for all Americans, and directing the vast American resources toward the problems facing America on a personal level. Reforms occurred on federal, state, and local levels. On a federal level reforms consisted of women's suffrage, lowering taxes on imports, prohibiting alcohol, regulating package of foods, sales of drugs, conservation of the environment, and regulating trusts. On a state level reforms consisted of reorganization and reduction of ruling bodies due to corruption, regulation of child labor, creation of power and sewer systems. Although many reforms were made during this period, we will be more concerned with those dealing with children in this paper.…show more content…
Corruption was rampant in politics and labor. There was a growing disparity between the rich and the poor and the large influx of migration wasn't helping this. All the while the urban middle class were experiencing a growth in this period. (pg3) Reformers were comprised mainly of the middle class. In 1890, Jacob Riis' “How the Other Half Lives” was published. This shocked and informed viewers by showing them the living conditions among the urban poor. Reformers among many other people sympathized towards children, working families, and migrant families due to this. The reformers believed they understood the poor and they despised the rich from creating these problems. The rich is the upper 10% of the economic ladder. (pg6) Sympathy towards the unfortunate were not always present. In 1849, a NYC chief of police, George W. Matsell thought the children in the streets were future criminals waiting to happen. This implies that the children would be better off working and laboring away somewhere other than the streets. He ultimately blamed the parents for the children's plight. Matsell believed the parents to be dishonest and immoral. (pg5) The parents he criticized were mostly immigrants and poor workers. Matsell's criticism were ignorant and unfair for which these families did not choose for their children to be out on the
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